The world of PC gaming was foreign to me for most of my formative years, so between not having that tech around and just being too young, I didn’t know what a “LucasArts adventure game” was. But while growing up online, a friend introduced me to SCUMMVM and a genre I totally missed out on. My first experience in that space was Sam & Max Hit the Road. But that wasn’t my first encounter with the pair, as it turns out I recognized these characters from a short-lived Fox Kids show. Weird how these things work out.
My vague memories of a cartoon didn’t prepare me for the hardest I’d laughed at a videogame at that point in my life. I was hooked, and apparently the universe was on my side. Within a year or so Telltale Games leapt into the spotlight with a brand new Sam & Max game, initially released as “Season One” but eventually retitled as Sam & Max Save the World. It was everything I hoped it would be, and I followed Telltale from that moment on. Until… well, we all know how things went down. Despite everything, this version of Sam & Max won’t be lost to time.
Skunkape Games, a small company started by multiple Telltale alumni, got a hold of the rights and have released Sam & Max Save the World Remastered. This new version takes the 2006 PC game and gives it a contemporary spitshine, with controller support, visual changes, and even some new music and voice acting. The source material is intact, warts and all. But with the small list of new touches, Save the World feels more authentically Sam & Max than ever before.
In 2020 a game like Sam & Max hits different, as adventure games, visual novels, and other narrative-focused experiences have simply settled into the primordial soup of videogames. So the point ‘n’ click, weird puzzles with abstract solutions style of the old SCUMM games doesn’t really feel novel or antiquated. You can certainly tell it’s a modest PC oddity from nearly 15 years ago, but Save the World Remastered is right at home on the Nintendo Switch. And like I said, the quirky vibe of this series feels more pronounced than ever.
A big part of that is Save the World Remastered’s updated visual style. It isn’t just a matter of slapping widescreen support, but an actual stylistic overhaul. It isn’t a massive difference, but is as effective as one. Many of the game’s models have been updated, with the large and chunky polygons of the original trimmed down a bit to more accurately reflect Steve Purcell’s original comic book art style (with actual input from Purcell, natch). Other changes such as a much more complex lighting system and other in-engine cinematography tweaks contribute to this vibe as well, really bringing the aesthetic to life in a way a game of its scale and era couldn’t before.
But while the visuals and some staging has changed, and the audio is uncompressed and cleaner than ever before, the creative work of the original is untouched. The script, jokes, puzzles are all intact, thanks to Telltale’s new owners handing over tons of source material. The most significant change is Bosco, who has an entirely new voice actor due to PoC characters voiced by white folks being a trope that hasn’t aged well at all. Shout outs to Skunkape for doing the right thing in that respect, and the new Bosco adds a new flavor to the character that’s just as charming.
I was on board with Telltale’s Sam & Max on day one. I was all-in, using my meager high school income to snap up as much merch as I could afford. So, maybe this review is compromised. But also, I don’t really care! Besides, having the different styles and eras of Sam & Max as a series burned into my brain makes Skunkape’s changes stand out more than they may have otherwise. Save the World never felt “wrong” or “off-model” or anything, but the remastered elements here feel like missing pieces we never knew about.
- Visual tweaks invoke Steve Purcell’s style more authentically
- New music and audio remastering are perf
- True to the form of its predecessors, meaning occasional bizarre solutions that don’t make sense even after you figure them out
- Driving minigame still sucks!
- Remasters without cool bonus materials are always disappointing to some extent
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review